Image Portrait of Robert Long, South Sea Island Mission, Nambour, 1906

TLF ID R8173

This posed black-and-white photograph is a head-and-shoulders portrait of Robert Long, a leader of the South Sea Island Mission at Nambour in Queensland. Long is shown resting his arms on an unseen surface at chest height and holding what appears to be a Bible. The photograph is in an oval frame and is one of a series of portraits that appeared on a page in The Queenslander newspaper.

Educational details

Educational value
  • Pacific Islanders such as Robert Long laboured in their thousands on coffee and sugar plantations in northern Qld in the late 19th century and formed part of a 'trade' in human beings that began in 1863. The trade was fundamentally similar to slave labour, with the major differences being that these people were indentured (contracted to work) for three years and their 'masters' were supposed to return them to their home islands after their period of service.
  • Long was involved with St John's Anglican Church in Nambour, and the South Sea Island Mission would have provided Pacific Islanders with a support system and a community structure as well as a basic Western education. In the late 19th century the Presbyterian and Anglican churches converted the majority of Islanders to a fairly fundamentalist type of Christianity, but public attitudes were hostile to it and it was largely abandoned after 1901.
  • The photograph appears in The Queenslander on a page captioned 'The undesirables - Kanaka settlers on the Blackall Range', which illustrates the racist attitudes most white Australians showed towards Pacific Islanders at the time. 'Kanakas' was a derogatory term referring to indentured Pacific Islanders who, according to the views of the time, were supposed to return home after their period of service and not settle in Australia.
  • The Australian Government began to deport Pacific Islanders in 1904 after the newly established Australian Parliament passed the 'Pacific Island Labourers Act' in 1901. The practice of importing overseas labour had virtually stopped with Federation and recruitment ceased altogether after 1903. With the passing of the Act, the Government could deport any of the remaining 10,000 Islanders and in fact repatriated 7,068 between 1904 and 1908.
  • The photographs appeared in the same year that a Royal Commission into the repatriation of Islanders amended the 1901 Act, allowing some Islanders to stay - those who had lived in Qld for at least 20 years, those whose marriages in Australia meant risks to themselves or their families on their return, the old and infirm, and those who owned freehold land. A total of 1,380 Islanders were able to stay, possibly including Long, and an estimated 1,000 stayed illegally.
  • The hostile caption implies that The Queenslander believed Long and the other Pacific Islanders in the photographs should be deported regardless of whether they were legally entitled to stay or not. Those who stayed generally suffered severe discrimination as they could not become citizens. As they were unable to gain a union ticket, employment in the sugar industry was forbidden and they lacked many of the skills required for other occupations.
Year level

F; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Author
  • Name: The Queenslander
  • Organization: The Queenslander
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Name: The Queenslander
  • Organization: The Queenslander
  • Description: Author
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and State Library of Queensland, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements